Personnel: Branford Marsalis (soprano saxophone, tenor saxophone); Wessell Anderson (alto saxophone); Wynton Marsalis (trumpet); David Sagher (trombone); Kenny Kirkland, Ellis Marsalis, Larry Willis (piano); Reginald Veal, Ron Carter, Eric Revis, Milt Hinton, Robert Hurst III (bass); Marvin "Smitty" Smith, Al Foster, Jeff "Tain" Watts (drums).
Producers: Delfeayo Marsalis, Thomas Mowrey.
Compilation producer: Nedra Olds-Neal.
Recorded between 1983 & 1998. Includes liner notes by Bob Blumenthal.
Includes liner notes by Bob Blumenthal.
The Steep Anthology collects various tracks from some of saxophonist Branford Marsalis' best Columbia albums. Beginning with his first session as a leader on 1983's Scenes in the City through to 1999's Requiem -- his second to last album for the label -- the eldest of the Marsalis brothers carved a singular path through the jazz world. Inspired by such innovative luminaries as John Coltrane, Ornette Coleman, and Wayne Shorter, Marsalis always displayed a deep understanding of his jazz roots while also looking to put his own unique stamp on the music. Never as buttoned-up as his trumpet-playing brother, the saxophonist made recordings that often seemed brilliantly haphazard, allowing for humorous and idiosyncratic forays into gutbucket blues and torrents of avant-garde skronk. His almost psychic connection with his bandmates, including the late pianist Kenny Kirkland, drummer Jeff "Tain" Watts, and bassist Robert Hurst, made for exciting and sometimes irreverent music that often gave the impression of eavesdropping on a conversation ripe with inside jokes. Most of the tracks here are original compositions by Marsalis, and many showcase his early "burnout" aesthetic of pushing his solos to the furthest limit he could. Others, such as "Royal Garden Blues" and "Sidney in da Haus," find the versatile New Orleans native rejoicing in his hometown second-line traditions with a bluesy, modernist edge. Marsalis left Columbia in 2002 to start his own independent music label; The Steep Anthology is a fitting tribute to the development of one of the most influential and individualistic jazz musicians of his generation. ~ Matt Collar